Roger and I had a wonderful visit with our daughter's family up at Lake Tahoe over the Christmas holidays. There was a fresh blanket of snow, and everyone was enjoying the food, company and beautiful outdoors. We had a chance to take the snowshoes out for a hike, and really had a good time in the quiet woods above the lake. But, Roger was feeling a bit of cabin fever, and was ready to head for home on Wednesday after Christmas. He was ready to get back to the bike, and get some exercise. (One can only take so much holiday eating and drinking!)
|Nice fresh snow!|
It was glorious! There were another eight or ten riders with us, and the tandem was out front, pushing the way through the canyon and just sailing along. At the upper end of the canyon, where the road is new and the gradient is the steepest, we were probably doing about 43 mph. Behind us, I could see everyone coasting along, drafting the tandem and only barely touching their own pedals. Up front, Roger and I were pedaling like mad! Our borrowed bike does not have gears as high as the Silver Queen, so we could still push them around and we were feeling great, so we kept the pace up.
After we passed Alessandro Road, I leaned forward and said to Roger, "I am cooked. When we hit the railroad tracks, we're going to slow it way down." That's usually when we start our cool down, as it's just a few miles from the coffee shop. We were just passing the white wooden fences at Johnny's Nursery when I heard a loud BANG! like a rifle shot. I could see Roger trying to wrestle the front end and straighten it out, and then I knew we were past the point that we could right the bike as we tilted over to the left and I shouted, "Shit!" And then we were down. Damn!
There isn't much you can do when you have a front tire blow out at 40 mph. I didn't pay any attention to the bike, but Roger said later the tire was all wrapped up in the wheel. That's sort of what happens. What happens to the riders is that they "tumble around" and get thrown to the pavement. I ended up seated, right next to Roger, who was lying down. I shouted to call 911, and some of our friends got the bike off the road and began directing the cars around us. In a flash, several of the others were with us, helping me keep Roger steady and talking him through it. He looked pretty bad. He kept asking "what happened?" and I would say, "the front tire blew out." Then he'd close his eyes, and open them again, and ask, "what happened?" Thank God we went down when there were no cars approaching us. We ended up on the middle line, so we could have been crushed by an oncoming car.
One family in a car that stopped gave us a fleece jacket to prop Roger's head up. Our friends were great. They stayed with us and took care of the bike when the ambulance came. I didn't think I had any issues other than the road rash, but I didn't want to leave Roger and I didn't have any other transportation so I rode with him to the ER. They took us to Loma Linda, which is the nearest trauma center. By the time I climbed out of the ambulance, I thought there was something just a bit wonky about my groin so I decided I should also be checked out.
Roger was thoroughly beat up. He had abrasions on both sides, a cut above his eyebrow, and he'd bit his cheek going down so there was blood in his mouth and all over his face when he landed. I remember thinking as we sat there: "is this it? Am I going to lose him? Does it happen like this?" To be honest, that is why I went in the ambulance with him. I did not want to let him out of my sight. They ran all the tests, and did X-rays, and eventually we learned that he had a small fracture in his shoulder, but no broken ribs. His lung was bruised, and he is still having a lot of pain. Most of the abrasions are starting to heal.
|This time it was Roger's turn|
Meanwhile, I thought, "well - I have already met my deductible for this year so I might as well have them check me out"! So I hobbled over to the Triage Desk, and filled out the form, and then went into the waiting room - where I almost gasped. It was full to the brim, and I figured I would be waiting there for hours. But it turns out that when you have visible blood on you, you move up the list! I had only been there a few moments when a woman came out and called three names, and mine was one of them. Hurrah!
I was taken to one room, and then another, and eventually got my wounds cleaned up and dressed, and had an X-ray of my pelvis. Turns out, I fractured it. It's just a small fracture, stable, will heal on its own. After I got pretty well taken care of, they let me walk over to see Roger. He was a mess. They had stitched up his eyebrow, and were working on his wounds. He was taking fluid and was on the monitors and all that. Yuck. You could be perfectly fit and healthy and if they put you in that gown and stuck you up with tubes and hooked you up to a monitor you would just look and feel awful.
They finally decided he was "stable" and sent him over to Kaiser for the night. He didn't want to go, of course, but this time I really was in no position to do anything for him and I told him he just had to go along with it. Our neighbors came to pick me up, and fed me, and later took me back to I could take Roger some clothes and his phone. Thank goodness for our friends! Kevin and Mary were so nice and so helpful and since I had not had my phone with me, theirs was the only number I knew.
|Don't want any more of these|
The whole community has been great. Our bike was in the backyard, waiting for us when we got home. We had meals delivered for days. People have run errands for us, had us to dinner, We are so blessed to have such loving, caring friends. I don't encourage anyone to do what we did, but if you are going to have a crash, you could not pick a better place to do it!
Right before I got into the ambulance, I gave my friend Robert a hug. I told him, "there are not many things in life that are absolutely certain. But one thing I know for sure: I will not fall off a bike again in 2016!" And that much has been true. So 2016 finished for us, nearly finishing us. Here's to a better 2017.